Water fix found for Pigeon Cove-St. Barbe
Temporary solution should supply communities until water supply thaws
The communities of Pigeon Cove-St. Barbe on the Northern Peninsula still have no running water, but the minister responsible says a temporary solution has been found.
About 200 residents have been forced to find other sources of water since a local pond, which supplies the area, froze up last week. The Canadian Red Cross has been providing bottles of water for people in the community, and others have even been melting snow until the problem is rectified.
Late Monday, Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Kent said a temporary solution has been found that should supply the communities until the water supply thaws. Kent would only say it involves a large tank with water pumped to it from another location.
He said work crews should be in the area by late Tuesday and have the makeshift system up and running by Thursday.
Kent said he's been told there's no problem with the new pumping system that was installed last year. But he acknowledged the water supply of choice is an issue.
"The pond is too shallow perhaps to be a water supply, if we were going to debate that," Kent told CBC's Radio Noon, noting it's about five feet at its deepest point.
"My understanding is that the intake (pipe) is located exactly where it should be ... and we're talking about an extremely shallow body of water, most of which is completely frozen at this point in time. I'm told there's nothing technically wrong with the system or the intake.
"The problem is that there's four feet of ice on a body of water that's isn't much more than four feet deep in many places."
But Kent said that was a choice made by community leaders.
"I understand that the local service district committee was quite adamant on continuing to use that water supply," he said.
Kent said it's frustrating that the expensive new system has been rendered useless by a combination of the shallow pond and severe weather.
But he also noted it's a first for the area, and something no one appears to have foreseen happening.
Resident Sam Gibbons said about 40 to 50 homes have been affected by the freeze-up, noting both the local motel and arena have been forced to close.
He placed some of the blame on those who installed the new pumping system.
"We trusted the engineers to look at this and put the intake (pipe) in the right place," he said.
Anna Power, operations manager with the Red Cross, said water has been distributed to those who need it most.
"Typically our support is provided to senior citizens who don't have the ability to go to another community and be able to get water. It could be for people who have small children in their family or have a medical need who would need that water," she said.